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Illegal Chinese fishing boat sinks S. Korean Coast Guard vessel

All Headlines 16:34 October 09, 2016

INCHEON, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- A Chinese boat illegally fishing in South Korean waters sank a Coast Guard vessel in a collision before fleeing the scene, prompting the government to summon a senior Beijing envoy in protest.

The Coast Guard in Incheon, west of Seoul, said the incident took place around 3 p.m. on Friday, in waters 76 kilometers southwest of Socheong Island in Incheon. A 4.5-ton speed boat for the Coast Guard had carried several officers in an operation to capture a Chinese vessel fishing illegally in the area, when another Chinese boat rear-ended it.

There were no injuries or casualties from the incident. An officer was on board when the ship capsized and was later rescued by another Coast Guard boat in the area.

At the time of the collision, the Coast Guard said eight of its officers were aboard the Chinese boat that it was trying to stop.

Dozens of other Chinese boats joined the fray, and the Coast Guard officers started firing their weapons in response.

To ensure safety, the Coast Guard ordered its eight officers off the Chinese ship.

According to the Coast Guard, about 40 Chinese boats had been fishing illegally in South Korea's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) at the time of the incident.

The boat that crashed into the Coast Guard vessel has been placed on the wanted list by the Coast Guards of both nations.

The Incheon Coast Guard summoned deputy Chinese consul general earlier Sunday, while the foreign ministry in Seoul summoned Beijing's consul general later in the day to lodge formal complaints and to demand China's strong efforts to prevent recurrences.

Clashes between local law enforcement and Chinese fishermen have been violent and fatal. In October 2014, a Chinese captain was shot to death while resisting apprehension. The Coast Guard was trying to stop one boat, and then crewmembers from four other Chinese boats came on board and started throwing beer bottles at the South Korean officers.

In December 2011, Coast Guard officer Lee Cheong-ho was fatally stabbed by a Chinese crew member during a raid on a fishing vessel operating illegally in waters off Incheon.

Dozens of Coast Guard officers working these tense waters reportedly are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.
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